Fake plastic trees

Studies have shown that frequent exposure to nature and plants improves our general health, so why is Leeds city centre littered with fake, plastic trees?

The benefits of being around nature and greenery are endless, firstly plants are natural air filters, with some houseplants absorbing up to 87% of toxins, whilst simultaneously adding moisture and oxygen into the air. Studies have shown that household plants can also relieve mild symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Nature can also contribute to harmonious, community living by reducing noise pollution, improving biodiversity, mitigating general air pollution and helping maintain a lower temperature.

With all of these benefits it begs the question, why are city centres so deprived of natural greenery? On a short walk through the heart of Leeds City Centre, not only is greenery difficult to find but any that you do come across is likely fake. 

Yorkshire born Ruby Hudson moved to Leeds for university and said ‘It’s depressing coming from the Yorkshire countryside to the city, it just grey concrete everywhere’ and added that she ‘wouldn’t even notice these plants are fake’.

Leeds city council have attempted to incorporate these ideas into the city, in 2022 they closed off roads outside the Corn Exchange to implement a community green space. However the space is overall disappointing with a couple of metres of grass and two potted plants. 

Leeds council announced that they intend to make Leeds a carbon neutral city by 2030 through the use of practices like replacing gas with waste powered district heating and only purchasing energy from renewable sources. Plants and greenery consume carbon from the environment during the process of photosynthesis, meaning adding more natural greenery to Leeds will not only benefit mental and physical health but the global climate emergency too.